92-year-old waited 38 hours for medical help for her gashed leg

Despite repeated calls for help from her carers and family

Published on Saturday 28 April 2012 06:00

A FRAIL 92-year-old woman who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease had to wait 38 hours for medical assistance after she was left with blood pouring from a gashed leg.

Despite repeated calls for help from her carers and family, Irene Roden was left alone by emergency services, who said her injury was not a high priority.

Now health officials are investigating why nurses using a call-out system for the elderly took so long to respond to Mrs Roden’s injury.

Mrs Roden’s daughter, Janet Free, said her mother’s leg split open as she was being washed by carers at her home in Rotherham.

This caused a deep cut, which bled heavily.

The carers rang the number for the town’s emergency nurses but were then told to call 999.

Call centre officials asked if Mrs Roden was on blood-thinning drug Warfarin and, when told she was not, they said her case was not serious enough.

Mrs Free said: “I said no she wasn’t on Warfarin, so the ambulance staff said they didn’t think this was classed as a life-or-death situation.”

Mrs Free, who was told by the 999 operator to phone the call-out system run by the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, added: “Mum’s carers, whose support was brilliant, were very upset and concerned but my mother couldn’t say how she felt and blood was gushing from her leg.

“They just treat old people like my mother despicably. What would have happened if she had been on her own?”

The accident occurred at 7.30am on a Saturday morning, but it was not until 8pm the next day when a nurse came to Mrs Roden’s home in Bramley, despite repeated calls to the call-out number.

After the carers were put in contact with a district nurse based outside Rotherham they were advised to bandage it themselves with a dressing, which they did.

Mrs Free added: “They said a district nurse would call at 10am to assess her, but nobody came. I rang at 11am and was told she was ‘on the list’.

“It got to 3pm and I rang again and was again told she was on the list but nobody came that day.

“On Sunday I rang at noon and was told she was on the list. I called at 3pm and at about 6pm.

“I rang again but no one came so still no assessment was made of her condition at all.

“Her carers’ employer Allied Carers, put in a request but it was not acted on. Eventually a sister and a male nurse came at 8pm and she said we had suffered a terrible ordeal.

“Mum had a 2.5in gash that required five strips or stitches.

“But then it was borderline to do so because the cut had been left so long and could have become infected.”

A spokesman for Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust said an investigation was under way into Mrs Roden’s care following her injury.

“We are aware of the complaint from Mrs Free regarding the services received by her mother Mrs Roden and are in the process of investigating.

“We have arranged to meet with Mrs Free in order to explore her concerns and the details of the case more fully and the trust will work closely with all concerned to ensure that robust services are in place for all patients.

“The trust is committed to using feedback from patients their relatives and carers in order to offer the best levels of service.”

Dave Macklin, of Yorkshire Ambulance Service, added: “Staff in our 999 emergency operations centres ask callers a series of questions to determine the seriousness of patients’ illnesses or injuries.

“Based on the information given by callers, patients who do not have serious bleeding and are not taking blood-thinning drugs are not categorised as life-threatening emergencies.”

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